Planning the Perfect Party

A guide and checklist to be a rockstar for ANY event.

Here I am, rounding the corner to my daughter’s 3rd birthday (*sigh* where has the time gone?)!

It made me think back to her first birthday and what an amazing, fun day it was.

So, I decided to share a little slice of such a wonderful day between my girl and her loved ones to celebrate the BIG FIRST BIRTHDAY and I’ve even created a guide to help you be the organized rockstar of your little’s event (or any event)!

It was done, I had made it. This party was going to be my greatest creation, (besides actually creating this kid and bringing her into the world).

As I set the last little favor down on the plate, I stood back and admired my planning perfection–– oh crap ICE, what about the ice?! We have to have ice!!

Photo Credit Jason Autry

Okay, rewind.

Those who know me know that I tend to get a little excessive with all aspects of my life, and my one-year-old’s birthday party was no exception.

I blame my mother for gifting me with the Type-A personality, but that’s another article for another time.

So, here I am, obsessing over every little detail and then forgot something as simple as ice.

Luckily I had a wonderful assistant, AKA my husband, who swiftly came to my rescue and got enough ice to save the party before I had a nuclear meltdown. Whew!

It’s literally the simplest things we forget at the eleventh hour, especially when we are juggling so many different things all the time. Would it have been the end of the world if we didn’t have ice? No, but I would have had a meltdown.

So, to aid you in creating the perfect party without an ice debacle, I created a plan, a checklist and a how-to for your little one’s perfect day for any year!

Photo Credit Jason Autry

Step 1: Theme

Keep this simple!

This is how I came up with the idea: My daughter is wild and I love that about her. I wanted her party to convey that so I titled it a “Wild One” and had a very rustic, outdoor, bohemian feel since it was outside. I used colors from her room to incorporate some of the decor (saved some money, too!).

For a boy, a “Wild One” could be a cabin theme. Pinterest is full of ideas here. Check out our Pinterest Page for Party Planning ideas here to give you a little more inspiration.

Step 2: Size of Guest List

Are we talking about a royal wedding or a backyard BBQ? This is important to know! I know you’d think to do this after the initial planning list, but no. And here’s why:

  1. All items (such as food, settings, rentals) are dependent on the number of people
  2. I hosted my daughter’s party at our home, but if you choose to have it at a location, before hunting for that location you need to have a rough estimate of the capacity needed

Step 3: To-Do’s

(Make the to-do list with this FREE Printable List at the bottom of this article!)

1. Location

2. Pick the outfit (because every kid needs to be stylish) and high chair banner

I purchased my daughter’s outfit at The Pickled Peanut here.

Photo Credit Jason Autry

3. Food (because every person needs to eat) I highly recommend a food truck of some sort. We did a taco truck and it was a huge hit! And best of all: NO CLEANUP FOR ME! I was able to enjoy my daughter’s birthday without worrying about the food.

Also, in many cases, this is cheaper than buying all the food yourself, prepping it and cleaning it up. The taco truck provided all plates, napkins and utensils, ask and see if your food truck does!

For her third birthday party, however, we are having a princess party and will be preparing the food since there is a whole unique menu for the theme. Stay tuned for those details and subscribe here to be notified when it publishes.

4. Decorations which include:

  1. Place settings
  2. Balloons
  3. Birthday Banner (I got my daughter’s banner custom made from The Pickled Peanut here)
  4. Table Decoration (I used mason jars and flowers)
  5. Tables & Chairs (rented from a local rental company)
  6. Tablecloths (also rented from a local rental company)
  7. The Birthday Facts Sign (so in photos you can remember specific events) Get this one here
Photo Credit Jason Autry

5. Party favors (Keep it simple with the theme) I did cellophane wrapped chocolates and tied it off with her theme colors (mint and peach)

Photo Credit Jason Autry

6. Drinks (if the caterer or truck doesn’t offer it)

7. Ice (DUH!)

8. Cake (smash cake for 1st birthday and cupcakes)

Photo Credit Jason Autry

9. Photographer or someone designated to take photos (I have wonderful family that is very gifted: All photo credit for event is credited to Jason Autry)

10. Games (not a decoration, but something to think about is an activity for your guests; for a first birthday we did cornhole and photo booth; for older children a hands-on activity is great!)

Step 4: The Execution

I realized once I got into it, it really didn’t take long to plan. I did everything two weeks before. The only thing that I did sooner was order her outfit because some shops take longer than others and her outfit was part of the whole theme.

Set aside time to go through it all and plan it all out at once. It shouldn’t take more than a couple hours.

It sounds crazy right? Well, when you plan ahead of time it doesn’t take too long to actually do it, (which is great because we don’t have a ton of time in our daily lives).

Step 5: Party Time

Prep as much as you can beforehand like favors, table decorations, etc. The list you made prior will help you in your execution on the day of the event.

Budget, Budget, Budget

This is an additional thing I wanted to add because it's important. My checklist includes a column for budgeting each item. A budget should be in mind so you are aware of how much you want to spend, versus how much you actually end up spending.

The budget is up to you and your means, but you can do any party up as much or as little as you desire, all within your desired budget.

I offer budget analysis through coaching and spreadsheets for those that need to determine a budget and reconcile what they spend! Feel free to contact me to receive a consultation on budgeting.

Photo Credit Jason Autry

Lastly, don’t sweat it, it will turn out great! Remember who you are doing it for and why it is such a special day! And hey, it’s a special and momentous occasion for us mothers, too!

Planned and executed the perfect party? I would love to see and showcase you on our Pinterest Page! Contact me at info@thedaughterdiary.com and tell me if you used these tips, how it turned out, and definitely want to see some photos!

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